Children’s Hospital team jumps at chance to transport hurricane babies and return favor in Lake Charles


NEW ORLEANS — Children’s Hospital knows how a major hurricane can impact operations. In 2005 when Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the city, the hospital had to evacuate and get all its patients to safety, including 26 NICU babies.

But CHNOLA didn’t have to look far for help. Lake Charles Memorial Hospital sent workers to New Orleans to bring NICU babies to safety on the other side of the state.

Flash forward almost exactly 15 years, and it was Lake Charles Memorial that needed help with its NICU babies as Hurricane Laura, a category 4 hurricane, decimated much of that area of the state.

“They said, ‘Do y’all mind coming in early and going to Lake Charles to help with the evacuation of some infants?’ And we said, ‘Are you kidding? We’ll be there as soon as we can’,” Sandy Amato told WGNO.

Amato is a nurse at Children’s Hospital and is on its transport team which is tasked with moving patients by ambulance or helicopter. She was joined by another crew member, Tamara Bardin, who is a respiratory therapist.

The two loaded up an ambulance and rode around debris and high water spots to get to Lake Charles Memorial where three NICU babies were waiting to be taken to New Orleans, including a set of twins.

“It was exhilarating actually, just to be able to do that for another outside hospital,” Bardin said.

Amato and Bardin say they were thrilled to have the chance to help the babies and return the favor.

The babies and their moms are currently in New Orleans. For more on the story, including what’s next ahead for the babies and their families, click on the video at the top of this page.


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